TEES, Dwight Look College of Engineering partner with industry leaders to develop commercial and educational facility

November 19, 2013
| By: Aubrey Bloom

Petroleum engineering Distinguished Alumnus Bill Von Gonten and his business partners, Dr. Lee Raymond and John Raymond, are building a world class rock physics lab in cooperation with faculty members from the Harold Vance Department of Petroleum Engineering at Texas A&M University.

Von Gonten heads his reservoir engineering consulting company, W.D. Von Gonten & Co. Lee Raymond is the former longtime Chairman & CEO of ExxonMobil, and his son John Raymond is Managing Partner and CEO of The Energy & Minerals Group.

Through a Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station (TEES) research cooperation agreement, faculty and students will help in designing and creating the lab. In return, faculty and students will have access to the lab for research projects.

Named the W. D. Von Gonten Laboratory (WDVGLab), the new facility will be equipped with more than $15 million of equipment that will be able to evaluate properties of oil- and gas-containing shales and other unconventional reservoir rock.

"This public/private partnership between the Texas A&M System and industry is another great example of the benefits of leveraging capabilities to advance energy research and testing while providing quality education to the future oil and gas workforce," said John Sharp, chancellor of The Texas A&M University System. "The lab is a win-win for our state."

The lab will be a resource for industry clients by performing sophisticated tests of rock samples from wells around the world.

"We are pleased to announce the creation of the WDVGLab, a new commercial lab created to support the exploration and production industry in analysis of low permeability reservoirs to better understand the hydrocarbon flow system and the geomechanical properties," said Bill Von Gonten, founder of the lab. "We are also pleased to be located in the Texas A&M University Research Park and excited to have the support of the Texas A&M Petroleum Engineering department and the TEES facilities. The WDVGLab is committed to providing state of the art equipment and scientific staff to provide the industry with a unique laboratory with a goal to enhance the understanding and increase the productivity of low permeability "unconventional" reservoirs which are mostly drilled with horizontal wells throughout North America and expanding globally. Our link with top industry scientists and the academic talent thru Texas A&M University is just another advantage that the lab and facility will provide."

As the premier facility of its kind worldwide, the WDVGLab will also provide a unique learning environment for faculty and students of Texas A&M.

"Through partnerships such as this, we are able to provide a world-class learning environment for our students, faculty and researchers, while helping advance technologies that ultimately serve the public," said Dr. M. Katherine Banks, TEES director and vice chancellor and dean of engineering at Texas A&M. "Through collaboration, we maximize the positive outcome for everyone involved."

Dr. Dan Hill, Noble Chair and head of the Harold Vance Department of Petroleum Engineering, stated that the creation of this innovative laboratory for tight-rock physics will provide Texas A&M faculty and students access to a world-class facility for the study of unconventional petrophysics.

"Our partnership will allow us to participate in research using unparalleled experimental equipment that will enable the discovery of fundamental properties of unconventional reservoir rocks, with applications from the molecular level to the scale of basin analysis," Hill said. "We are thrilled to have this laboratory being created on the Texas A&M campus, and to be able to collaborate in the rock-physics and engineering studies to be conducted there."

An initial staff is already in place, and most major pieces of equipment are arriving. The facility is located in the Texas A&M Research Park and is expected to be fully operational by Fall 2014.


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